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Cave Information

Cave Tours

Late Summer Schedule Adobe PDF Document
August 11 - September 1, 2014

Fall Schedule Adobe PDF Document
September 2 - November 2, 2014



Walking Cave Tours


X-Cave

X-Cave has two vertical joint passages that meander through a large layer of limestone, putting you up-close to beautiful cave formations. The name of this cave refers to the configuration of its passages which cross in the center of the cave to form the letter "X". Cave highlights include the Great Chandelier, the largest formation of stalactites in the cave, cave coral, and formations with such tell-tale names as the Giant Turkey, the Pipe Organ and Headache Rock.

Tour information: approximately 45 minutes, ¼ mile long, 75 stair steps and some narrow passages and stooping. Tours available year-round.

Cascade Cave

Cascade Cave is our longest scenic cave tour that is noted for its large chambers and many beautiful cave formations. A highlight of the tour is a 30-foot high underground waterfall as well as the Lake Room’s reflecting pool, the Cathedral in North Cave, and the Dance Hall where a previous owner held weekly dances.

Tour information: approximately 75 minutes, ¾-mile long, easy terrain with exception of over 250 stairs throughout the cave. Tours available year-round.

Saltpetre Cave

Saltpetre Cave is considered by many historians to be the site of the earliest industry in the area. The cave was used during the War of 1812 as a source of the major ingredient in making gunpowder, Saltpetre, and is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Discover a fascinating segment of Kentucky’s history as you take a step back in time over 200 years ago. Tour information: approximately 60 minutes, 1/2-mile long, flat walking, some stooping, approximately 30 stairs. Lantern tours of the cave are also offered several times a week. Tours available Memorial Day to Labor Day.

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Wild Cave Tours


Wild Cave Tours are NOT recommended for those who are pregnant, suffer from back or joint pain, are claustrophobic, cannot stoop, bend, crawl, or suffer from vertigo.

Bat Cave Walking Tour

Bat Cave is the longest cave found within the park. The Bat Cave Walking Tour is a wild cave tour, so the trip is considered rugged and strenuous. The cave is completely undeveloped, it is not electrically lit, and there are no handrails or steps. Plan to get wet and muddy on this tour. You must pass a squeeze test before you go on this tour. You must be at least 6 years old and an adult must accompany those under 15 years old. Guardians will need to sign waivers for children under 18yrs of age.

Tour information: approximately 2.5 hours, 2 miles long, prolonged stooping and bending, slick and muddy terrain, plan to get your feet wet, a duck walk is required for approximately 130 feet, a one mile hike above ground required on the return trip. Helmets and flashlights are provided for the tour. Tours available Memorial Day – Labor Day.

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Saltpetre Kid's Crawl


The Saltpetre Kid’s Crawl is a great way to introduce your child to the wonderful and adventurous sport of caving. You’re child will be crawling on their hands and knees in small dark passages that will be lit only by the flashlight we provide. The kids will be getting very dirty as the passages are rocky and dusty. To participate in the tour your child must be between 6-12 years old and wear long pants, long shirt and closed toe shoes. Parents are not permitted to accompany their children on the tour. Guardians will need to sign waivers for the children.

Tour information: approximately 1.5 hours, 3/4 mile long, prolonged stooping and bending, some hand and knee crawls required. Helmets and flashlights are provided for the tour. Tours available Memorial Day – Labor Day.

Crawling Tours


These are the most adventurous and strenuous tours we offer. These tours will visit many small cave passages that require hand and knee crawls and in some instances belly crawls. Other cave passages will require prolonged stooping, bending and scrambling over slick rocks.

• You MUST be at least 12 years old and if under the age of 15 you must be accompanied by an adult.
• Guardians will need to sign waivers for children under 18 years of age.
• You must pass a squeeze test before you purchase your tickets.
• We will provide helmets, headlamps, coveralls, and kneepads.
• You should be wearing: hiking boots, shorts, and a t-shirt for under the coveralls.

Bat Cave Crawling Tour

Tour information: Approximately 3 hours. Bat cave is wild cave and completely undeveloped. This tour will have you crawling and walking through a lot of muddy and wet cave passages. You will spend much time crawling on your hands, knees and your belly. You will get very muddy and sloppy on this tour. This is considered a strenuous and rugged caving trip and may not be a good choice for some folks. Tours available Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Saltpetre Crawling Tour

Tour information: Approximately 3 hours. This tour will be both on the commercial routes of the cave and many of the wild unlit passages of the cave. You will be crawling both on your hands and knees and even doing some belly crawls through dry dusty passages during this tour. The cave is really cold, rocky and dusty. This is considered a strenuous and rugged caving trip and may not be a good choice for some folks. Tours available Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Temporarily Closed Caves


Laurel Cave and Horn Hollow Caves

(Note: These caves remain closed due to the threat of spreading WNS to other locations. Laurel Cave has bats that are confirmed of having White Nose Syndrome. All the park led tours of caves are followed by a decontamination process to make sure we do not spread the disease inadvertently. There is not a way to regulate a decontamination process in caves that are not guided.)

Two other caves worthy of note at Carter Caves are Laurel and Horn Hollow Caves. Laurel cave is an undeveloped cave that is formed along a vertical joint. The downstream entrance is located alongside Cave Branch. The upstream end of the main passage is in Horn Hollow, an elevated valley that seldom has water flowing along the valley floor. Instead, the water is underground. Further upstream Horn Hollow Cave is found in this dry streambed. Water flows out of the entrance, forming a large pool that has a picture perfect reflection of the flora and fauna of the area. This is strictly an underground water conduit for Horn Hollow Creek. During periods of heavy rains the underground water conduit fills with water and you begin to see water running in the stream bed on the surface. Both Horn Hollow and Laurel Cave are prone to flooding and on occasion during the spring months and summer, flash floods occur. Laurel Cave is also home to several thousand Indiana Bats and is managed for these bats similar to Bat and Saltpetre Cave.

White-nose Syndrome


White-nose Syndrome (WNS) is a disease that is killing 70-100% of hibernating bats in infected caves. WNS does not have any effect on humans, livestock or pets. WNS was found February 2013 in some of the Park Caves.

How You Can Help

Do not wear the shoes, clothing, or carry objects that you had with you while on a cave tour at Carter Caves into another cave system outside of the Carter Caves area unless they have been decontaminated.

Prohibited On Cave Tours

Because of the possibility of White-nose Syndrome contamination, the following are prohibited on cave tours: Camera bags, tripods, strollers, backpacks, luggage, PETS, BAGS of any type, including purses, fanny packs, diaper bags, camera cases, etc. Sandals/flip-flops, etc. Please wear appropriate shoes that cover the entire foot for safety. Bags containing necessary medical supplies are permitted.

Required Participant Decontamination Protocol

All cave touring participants at Carter Caves State Resort Park will be required to walk on bio-mats after exiting the cave tour. This process will require each individual to walk across the length of an outdoor carpet and across a bio mat containing water and possibly Lysol IC mixture. This process has been proven to help prevent the spread of spores. NOTE: Please review these procedures before you purchase any cave tour tickets as refunds cannot be issued at the Welcome Center. Thank you for your assistance with these procedures.

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